Criminal Minds: Gideon's New LifebyTara_Neale©
They both raced to her. The three of them meeting somewhere in the middle, a tangle of arms and hugs and kisses. Words would have to wait. Laughter was the only answer for questions unspoken then.
Jason stood on the porch, staring out into the darkness. The cool night air bristled across his skin, raising tiny hairs on his arms. He should go inside. Get a jacket.
But he knew that Fancy was putting Jessie to bed. Their day had been a busy one. Ambulances had taken them to the local hospital where Fancy, Jessie and the other girls were all checked out. Of course, there were police interviews to be done as well. There had been no time for sleep.
It was late afternoon when they finally made it home. He and Fancy had puttered about the kitchen in silence, preparing a meal that was consumed in silence. They had retreated to the living room and mindless television.
Then although it was barely eight o'clock and the sun was just dipping beneath the horizon, Jessie had yawned. When Fancy suggested that the girl go to bed, a frightened look had flashed across her face. A look that her mother instantly recognized. Fancy had suggested that Jessie sleep in her room for the night.
At the ripe old age of fourteen, the girl had protested, if a bit weakly, that she was too big. But Fancy had reassured her that it was just for the night. Using skills of a true profiler, she had gone so far as to assure her daughter that it was for her sake...a mother's need to know her child was safe.
Together the two had snuck away to Fancy's room as Gideon cleared the table and did dishes. Then he had come out here to think...to consider what to do next.
"Want to hear what I think?" the sweet whisper came from over his shoulder.
He shifted slowly, capturing her about the waist and drawing her into his arms. He pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head.
"What do you think?"
"Maybe I should have said...what I know," she replied looking up at him with those green eyes. "I did a bit of research on the Internet about the great Jason Gideon. After the way Hank seemed to oh and ah over everything you said and did, I was a bit curious."
Jason sighed, looking off once more into the darkness. What had she discovered? He knew that there was plenty out there. Plenty for her to find out. Stories about what had happened in Boston. Lives lost, colleagues killed because of his mistake. His break down. And of course, there was Sarah's death. It was all there. Headlines to proclaim his failings.
Her fingers brushed across his cheek and he looked down at those eyes again. Green eyes that he saw then were not filled with condemnation. The quick mind of the profiler rifled through emotions seeking to name what he saw in her face. Pain...empathy...understanding.
"It wasn't your fault, Jason. None of it," her words put truth to his instincts.
"You don't know that," he whispered, years of pain and self-loathing finding voice then.
"You are right I don't know any more than I read about the things that have happened to you. So let me tell you what I have discovered about life," she pushed her finger into his shoulder as she continued.
"A crazy killer, a crazy white supremacist held my mixed race daughter captive...for two fucking days. Should I have told Hank no when he asked for my help to find those men? Was that kid's death my fault? His brother said it was. Threatened to take the one thing that I loved from me in payback. He said it was all my fault...that I deserved the pain. Did I? Was it all my fault?" her green eyes flamed as she spoke with passion.
"Hell, no. We all make decisions. Those guys choose their destinies. They choose to believe that one type of man is better than others simply because of the color of their skins. I understand it; I had it drummed into me every single day of my life until I was sixteen. It was what my daddy believed. What he taught me to believe."
Gideon watched as she turned back towards the night sky. Her fingers gripped the wooden banister as she spoke, "Until the day I met the kindest, smartest man who became the best friend I ever had. I was a sophomore in high school, when I met Sean. He was a senior, a star on the football team. He even had a college scholarship offer. He was the best thing that ever happened to me."
Gideon's throat tightened with each word that she spoke. Something inside of him raged with jealousy...ached to have her feel the same about him. He was half lost in that pain when she spoke again.
"But he just happened to be black. By accident of birth, something he had no control over. But according to my daddy, it made him sub-human, less than a man. But I knew better. I knew that he was more of a man than my daddy would ever be," her voice was filled with emotion as she continued.
"Then Desert Storm happened and Sean decided that instead of playing football in college, he would join the army and serve his country. When he came home after basic training, my daddy found out the truth...that his baby girl, his precious daughter had a black boyfriend. Someone, one of his friends had seen us at the bus station when I saw him off."
She shivered whether from the cool night air or the memory Jason was not certain. He ached to hold her...warm her. But he knew that right now she needed to talk. A story she had to tell. A story that he needed to hear.
"Daddy beat the shit out of me. Honestly, if Mama hadn't intervened I think he would have killed me. I ran away then. Took a bus and followed Sean. I was just sixteen then. But he found a family on the base that would take me in...foster me. He went off to Ranger training while I finished high school. When I did, we got married. Then a few years later Jessie came along. Even though I worried every time he was deployed our life was pretty damned good."
Jason waited as she paused. Again jealousy clawed at his guts. As wrong as it seemed, he admitted it. He was jealous. Jealous of a dead man. A man who had held this woman's heart while all Jason had held was her body.
When she finally continued, he could see the fresh tears slip down her creamy cheeks. "Then one night a dumbed ass teenager decided to get drunk after the prom...and get behind the wheel of the fast sports car his rich daddy had bought him. The accident killed Sean instantly. The guy's girlfriend died later at the hospital. After half a dozen tours of duty, my hero husband was not downed by an enemy bullet serving his country. He was killed less than a mile from our house, coming home to me and our baby girl."
Jason was shocked by the vitriol that he heard in her voice. In all their time together, he had never seen her angry, heard her say a single unkind word. But now she shook with years of bottled hatred. "By a stupid kid whose freedom he defended every day of his adult life. And the justice system that he had fought to defend let the bastard go. His daddy bought him the best lawyer that money could buy and he didn't even lose his license."
He felt her pain, agonized over the injustice of it all. He watched her as she dried the tears with the back of her hand, then she continued her story. "I was a widow...with a toddler to raise alone. And I could have given up...could have just gone into survival mood. But I choose to fight. I wanted better for Jessie. I wanted her to know what her daddy stood for...what this country still stands for. You want to know the biggest lesson that I learned from all that, Jason Gideon?"
Jason nodded. It was all that he could manage as her fiery words bounced about his head.
"I learned that all we have is now. Life fucking sucks. It isn't fair...and there is nothing you can do to keep the people you love safe from any of it. All you can do is live in the moment. Yes, I lost one of the best men that ever walked this earth to a stupid drunk driver, but we had ten of the most amazing years of my life. Memories that will be with me forever. And he gave me an amazing daughter. I would not trade any of it...the bad or the good."
She reached out and brushed softly at his shirt. Then she looked up into his eyes, "Life is what we make, Jason. We can live in fear all our lives. Fear that we might get hurt. But you know what...that fear keeps us from living. From living in the moment...from the joy we have right now."
"As I stared down that guy's gun today, I was scared. Scared shitless. Scared for Jessie. Scared for my life. But I was scared too for you, Jason. Scared what another loss might do to you. And that's when I knew I had to do something. Something to protect Jessie. Something to protect you. Even if I was scared, I had to do something. And between how much I love Jessie and how much I love you, I found the strength...the strength to fight again. Just like I did when Daddy beat me, when Sean was killed."
She laughed softly, "You know I still don't know what the fuck I did back there. When Hank asked what happened, I didn't have an answer. All I remember was knowing I had to do something for Jessie and you...and me. Then the next thing I know I'm sitting on top of that guy twisting his arms behind his back and holding him down for Hank and his men. Hell if I know how I did it."
Her eyes sparkled as she looked up at him, "But I did it. And I'd do it again, Jason. For Jessie...and for you." Her fingers brushed softly across his cheek, tracing his five o'clock shadow. "And whether we have just one more night together before you hop back into your car and keep running from your past...or if we have ten years like I did with Sean...or a life time, I'm going to live. Live in this moment...and love."
Silence hung between them for long moments. Jason's mind poured over her words. He thought about the little girl raised by a father that isolated and abused his family. He thought about the teenager with strength enough to see through her father's lies to the truth about the commonality of mankind. He thought about the young widow faced with raising her child alone. He thought too about the woman who must have faced her own past as she stood in that cabin fighting for her child's life.
His mind turned over her words of love. Marvelled at them. Thanked whatever being there was...if any for such a precious gift.
If he had been half in love with her already, the truths he saw in those green eyes as he silently held this strong woman in his arms humbled him.
Finding his voice, he pushed words past the tightness in throat. He felt tears stinging the back of his eyes as he spoke. "How about we head to bed? We have to be up early, if we're going to open the diner tomorrow. I think the sheriff has had enough trouble these past couple of weeks without a riot on the base if those guys have to live much longer without your cooking."
Fancy took his hand in hers and led him into the house. To the room that had become his...and to a new life without fear. A life of love in every moment...for as long as they had.
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. ~Peter Ustinov